How often he had met you, sword to sword;
That of all things upon the earth he hated
Your person most; that he would pawn his fortunes
To hopeless restitution, so he might
Be call'd your vanquisher.
Are these your herd?--
Must these have voices, that can yield them now,
And straight disclaim their tongues?--What are your offices?
You being their mouths, why rule you not their teeth?
Have you not set them on?
It is a purpos'd thing, and grows by plot,
To curb the will of the nobility:
Suffer't, and live with such as cannot rule,
Nor ever will be rul'd.
Call't not a plot:
The people cry you mock'd them; and of late,
When corn was given them gratis, you repin'd;
Scandal'd the suppliants for the people,--call'd them
Time-pleasers, flatterers, foes to nobleness.
Why, then, should I be consul? By yond clouds,
Let me deserve so ill as you, and make me
Your fellow tribune.
You show too much of that
For which the people stir: if you will pass
To where you are bound, you must inquire your way,
Which you are out of, with a gentler spirit;
Or never be so noble as a consul,
Nor yoke with him for tribune.
Now, as I live, I will.--My nobler friends,
I crave their pardons:
For the mutable, rank-scented many, let them
Regard me as I do not flatter, and
Therein behold themselves: I say again,
In soothing them we nourish 'gainst our senate
The cockle of rebellion, insolence, sedition,
Which we ourselves have plough'd for, sow'd, and scatter'd,
By mingling them with us, the honour'd number,
Who lack not virtue, no, nor power, but that
Which they have given to beggars.
How! no more!
As for my country I have shed my blood,
Not fearing outward force, so shall my lungs
Coin words till their decay against those measles
Which we disdain should tetter us, yet sought
The very way to catch them.
You speak o' the people
As if you were a god, to punish, not
A man of their infirmity.
O good, but most unwise patricians! why,
You grave but reckless senators, have you thus
Given Hydra leave to choose an officer,
That with his peremptory 'shall,' being but
The horn and noise o' the monster, wants not spirit
To say he'll turn your current in a ditch,
And make your channel his? If he have power,
Then vail your ignorance: if none, awake
Your dangerous lenity. If you are learn'd,
Be not as common fools; if you are not,
Let them have cushions by you. You are plebeians,
If they be senators: and they are no less
When, both your voices blended, the great'st taste
Most palates theirs. They choose their magistrate;
And such a one as he, who puts his 'shall,'
His popular 'shall,' against a graver bench
Than ever frown'd in Greece. By Jove himself,
It makes the consuls base: and my soul aches
To know, when two authorities are up,
Neither supreme, how soon confusion
May enter 'twixt the gap of both and take
The one by the other.
Though there the people had more absolute power,--
I say they nourish'd disobedience, fed
The ruin of the state.
Why shall the people give
One that speaks thus their voice?
I'll give my reasons,
More worthier than their voices. They know the corn
Was not our recompense, resting well assur'd
They ne'er did service for't; being press'd to the war,
Even when the navel of the state was touch'd,
They would not thread the gates,--this kind of service
Did not deserve corn gratis: being i' the war,
Their mutinies and revolts, wherein they show'd
Most valour, spoke not for them. The accusation
Which they have often made against the senate,
All cause unborn, could never be the motive
Of our so frank donation. Well, what then?
How shall this bisson multitude digest
The senate's courtesy? Let deeds express
What's like to be their words:--'We did request it;
We are the greater poll, and in true fear
They gave us our demands:'-- Thus we debase
The nature of our seats, and make the rabble
Call our cares fears; which will in time
Break ope the locks o' the senate and bring in
The crows to peck the eagles.--
No, take more:
What may be sworn by, both divine and human,
Seal what I end withal!--This double worship,--
Where one part does disdain with cause, the other
Insult without all reason; where gentry, title, wisdom,
Cannot conclude but by the yea and no
Of general ignorance--it must omit
Real necessities, and give way the while
To unstable slightness: purpose so barr'd, it follows,
Nothing is done to purpose. Therefore, beseech you,--
You that will be less fearful than discreet;
That love the fundamental part of state
More than you doubt the change on't; that prefer
A noble life before a long, and wish
To jump a body with a dangerous physic
That's sure of death without it,--at once pluck out
The multitudinous tongue; let them not lick
The sweet which is their poison: your dishonour
Mangles true judgment, and bereaves the state
Of that integrity which should become't;
Not having the power to do the good it would,
For the ill which doth control't.
Has spoken like a traitor, and shall answer
As traitors do.
Thou wretch, despite o'erwhelm thee!--
What should the people do with these bald tribunes?
On whom depending, their obedience fails
To the greater bench: in a rebellion,
When what's not meet, but what must be, was law,
Then were they chosen; in a better hour
Let what is meet be said it must be meet,
And throw their power i' the dust.
I would they were barbarians,--as they are,
Though in Rome litter'd,--not Romans,--as they are not,
Though calv'd i' the porch o' the Capitol.
Put not your worthy rage into your tongue;
One time will owe another.
On fair ground
I could beat forty of them.
I could myself
Take up a brace o' the best of them; yea, the two tribunes.
But now 'tis odds beyond arithmetic;
And manhood is call'd foolery when it stands
Against a falling fabric.--Will you hence,
Before the tag return? whose rage doth rend
Like interrupted waters, and o'erbear
What they are used to bear.
Pray you be gone:
I'll try whether my old wit be in request
With those that have but little: this must be patch'd
With cloth of any colour.
His nature is too noble for the world:
He would not flatter Neptune for his trident,
Or Jove for's power to thunder. His heart's his mouth:
What his breast forges, that his tongue must vent;
And, being angry, does forget that ever
He heard the name of death.
He shall be thrown down the Tarpeian rock
With rigorous hands: he hath resisted law,
And therefore law shall scorn him further trial
Than the severity of the public power,
Which he so sets at nought.
He shall well know
The noble tribunes are the people's mouths,
And we their hands.
If, by the tribunes' leave, and yours, good people,
I may be heard, I would crave a word or two;
The which shall turn you to no further harm
Than so much loss of time.
Speak briefly, then;
For we are peremptory to dispatch
This viperous traitor: to eject him hence
Were but one danger; and to keep him here
Our certain death: therefore it is decreed
He dies to-night.
Now the good gods forbid
That our renowned Rome, whose gratitude
Towards her deserved children is enroll'd
In Jove's own book, like an unnatural dam
Should now eat up her own!
O, he's a limb that has but a disease;
Mortal, to cut it off; to cure it, easy.
What has he done to Rome that's worthy death?
Killing our enemies, the blood he hath lost,--
Which I dare vouch is more than that he hath
By many an ounce,--he dropt it for his country;
And what is left, to lose it by his country
Were to us all, that do't and suffer it
A brand to the end o' the world.
Merely awry: when he did love his country,
It honour'd him.
The service of the foot,
Being once gangren'd, is not then respected
For what before it was.
We'll hear no more.--
Pursue him to his house, and pluck him thence;
Lest his infection, being of catching nature,
One word more, one word.
This tiger-footed rage, when it shall find
The harm of unscann'd swiftness, will, too late,
Tie leaden pounds to's heels. Proceed by process;
Lest parties,--as he is belov'd,--break out,
And sack great Rome with Romans.
What do ye talk?
Have we not had a taste of his obedience?
Our aediles smote? ourselves resisted?--come,--
Consider this:--he has been bred i' the wars
Since 'a could draw a sword, and is ill school'd
In bolted language; meal and bran together
He throws without distinction. Give me leave,
I'll go to him and undertake to bring him
Where he shall answer, by a lawful form,
In peace, to his utmost peril.
It is the humane way: the other course
Will prove too bloody; and the end of it
Unknown to the beginning.
Be you then as the people's officer.--
Masters, lay down your weapons.